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Black Beard Algae! HELP!

Discussion in 'Algae' started by Mildly Rabid, May 27, 2011.

  1. Mildly Rabid

    Mildly Rabid New Member

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    I just got a thin film of black beard algae on almost everything in my tank. I'm pretty sure the problem is too much ammonia; I've missed three or four of my previously weekly water changes. It is not at the Point of No Return--more of the Point of Desperate Cleaning Before the Plants Die.

    I am currently reducing my lights and will do a massive water change ASAP. I am prepared for total tank overhaul (it's pretty ugly anyway), but just want to save the plants since they have cost me money and I am attached to them.

    Tell me what to do please!:%3
     

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  2. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    If your tank is a non CO2 tank you may not want so many frequent water changes. I've heard it is difficult for plants to adjust to increased CO2 at water changes and then low CO2 the rest of the time. I change my low tech 29 gallon water about once a month. No big deal if I don't get to it either. Things go slow. I have 2x24 Watt T5HO's about 20" from the water surface to give you an idea of what I do.

    If you redo the tank you can get rid of the algae by washing the plants briefly in a 10:1 bleach to water solution. Rinse until you start to see the algae discolor then rinse again in water without bleach.

    Your tank is a 46 gallon bowfront correct? What lighting are you using? what is your flow and filtration like? How old is the tank? Anything you have done differently lately? If it is an older tank and you have not stirred up the substrate too much or added a lot of more fish I doubt it is an ammonia issue.
     
  3. CatfishSoupFTW

    CatfishSoupFTW Aspiring Aquascaper

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    i ... can actually give you a real good suggestion here. i ran into this thread via your reply to my first welcome.. anywho.

    i have been suffering from bearded algae for MONTHS ! didnt know what to do, tons of research, i refused to bleach my plants, and i even got a few TRUE Siamese flying fox fish. only i believe 2 fish eat it, including this one. though no luck. they will eat it, but not all of it.

    then a buddy of mine had a few algae issues as well, including bearded algae, when he had his co2 off. but once he had it back on, everything just went away. now i too have t5 HO lights, and so algae can easily grow. i usually do weekly 25 percent water changes as well.

    now i then thought about getting a co2 system for my tank.. its a 55 gallon and so it would just be too pricey.

    anyways, i listened to what he said about the co2 helping him, and so i bought flourish excel. been dosing for almost a month, and man has it done work! i guess i just lacked in some carbon, but i assure you, so far it has done wonders. just follow the instructions of dosing it ( i do the daily dose, not every other dose) and fairly quickly it just all went away. the fish are all fine, plants are doing even better, there is still some algae on the gravel and filter, and a bit of the driftwood, but scraping that would be fine.

    soo, cheapest and safest alternative, from my experience, is dosing the tank with flourish excel.

    hope you try it out.

    oh! and yes, weekly water changes, and maybe be a bit picky with the hrs of lighting for a bit. hope it helps keep us posted.
     
  4. Mildly Rabid

    Mildly Rabid New Member

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    It's a new tank, so I'm pretty sure a nutrient imbalance related to cycling caused the algae. Too much ammonia, too little co2 and minerals. That's one reason why adding co2 helps so many people, right? Because lgae grows in any conditions, plants will take over and choke out the algae, but only when it's balanced, or something.

    Thanks for the bleach advice. I'm wondering, will that hurt my thin-leaved stem plants? They seem l ike they would be extra-sensitive, but I'm not sure.
     
  5. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    James' Planted Tank - Algae Guide
    Getting your ferts, water management and most importantly CO2 in check should be your priority, prevention is better than cure and what not.
     
  6. Mildly Rabid

    Mildly Rabid New Member

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    But the stem plants? They look damaged, or at least hard to scrape off. I really am interested in prevention and will follow your advice on that, but as my tank is torn down right now, I must focus on cure.
     
  7. CatfishSoupFTW

    CatfishSoupFTW Aspiring Aquascaper

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    if its tore down, then i say attempt the bleach. i have never heard anyone mention stem plants being damaged to be honest. in fact, a lot of the cases involved stem plants ( anubias and ferns) so i am confident it wouldnt harm it. if the tank is up, and planted, then id attempt the co2 fix. just be careful if you do use bleach, the right mix.
     
  8. Mildly Rabid

    Mildly Rabid New Member

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    Not stem plants as in anubias or ferns. I mean stem plants as in cabomba, hornwort, and the like.
     
  9. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    Bleach will only kill the plants, common sense there! Forget that one out right. If you want a quick fix taking excel in a pippette and spraying it directly onto the affected area will turn it red and it will die. You can brush it on with a small brush at a water change too but even this will damage the plants and potentially exacerbate the matter.

    Stem plants are fast growing for the most part, here's what I would do, increase co2, increase water changes, 50% daily for at least 14 days and increase dosing, I use estimative index, let the plants really grow out and then trim back hard removing all the old plant mass that was affected by bba, maybe if it's stems going as far as a replant using the healthy tips and new growth from the new regime.
    BBA is caused by fluctuating co2 and or too much light compared the the amount of co2 in the water, not an imbalance as you suggested. Flow too could be an issue, if your water isn't circulating with enough velocity (a rule of thumb is 10x the volume an hour) then the barrier effect at the leaf surface can't be overcome and the plants will starve because there's an ineffective delivery method, think of it like this, you're being driven by light, if you have a lot of light you need a lot of co2 and in turn you need to be able to get to that co2 quickly, imagine the plants are a runner being fed by a pair of conveyor belts providing nutrients, one runner has all the nutrients they need coming on a fast moving conveyor, the other has all the nutrients but the speed is slower meaning he grows tired before he can get the nutrients because it's going so slow, which runner is going to be the healthier one? It's a crude analogy but apt in making it more clear I feel.

    Ammonial spikes are responsible for some algaes but these tend to be filamentous and what could be considered a result of poor husbandry.

    By the way, Ferns and anubias are rhizomes, stems are just that stems, and rosettes are things like crypts and some aponagetons.
     
  10. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like the bleach thing isn't a good idea, although I have done it with anubias and a few other plants without troubles. Probably not a good idea with mosses or stems. Excel will do the same thing to those plants as bleach (dilute bleach). Trimming affected portions on the stems sounds like the best route with those. Stems are weedy and grow back easily. I have planted a full tank with just bottoms of stems. With Co2 they grew out nicely...

    Garuf, mildlyrabid doesn't run CO2. (correct me if I'm wrong rabid)

    With low tech its too much light, as CO2 is not a variable that can be manipulated.

    My low tech has ZERO algae issues and I change the water infrequently. Reduce the light, increase the flow, find a regular dosing routine since your substrate is inert, and cut away affected portions after getting some healthy algae-less growth.
     
  11. CatfishSoupFTW

    CatfishSoupFTW Aspiring Aquascaper

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    omg brain fart sorry i had roots in my mind i have no clue why.. embarrassing.

    anyways, so far from what i have read from the other posts (i have been following) by avoiding bleach, good water changes, less light, proper dosing, and some good cleaning of the substrate would help, and trimming. Trimming for me sort of backfired though, but that was initially before i realized i lacked in co2. id trim, only to get more, my old anubia got demolished, and its still in bad shape. so sad i bought another one XD but yes, so far thats what i have been able to collect from all the other users..

    :D
     
  12. Mildly Rabid

    Mildly Rabid New Member

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    Alright then, I guess I'll just wait for the plants to grow out, and then trim off the bottoms. I cut the light in half, so it's a 1.75 wpg equivalent now. But is that too little for the thin, needle-like leaves of the aforementioned stem plants? (I forgot the name of the plant right after leaving my LPS, sorry.)

    Nope, don't use co2 (too expensive; need to save for a car). Once I get some ferts in I figure I can start DIY and ramp up the light again...or not. I know that DIY yeast co2 has swings in concentration. I'd use a drop checker, but am wondering: would the plants be healthier without co2 than with fluctuating DIY co2?
     
  13. CatfishSoupFTW

    CatfishSoupFTW Aspiring Aquascaper

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    why dont you use flourish excel? cheap(like 15 bucks for a bottle or less) alternative for co2. works for me. im in the same boat as you, id love to have a co2 system, but i would need to sell my arms and legs to get a system for my 55 gallon tank :p

    as for the WPG thing, and the fluctuating co2, i dunno.

    the WPG does sound a bit questionable, i have 1.96 WPG for my 55 gallon (did the calculation excluding the substrate) and it seems to be working for me. I dont have any needle like plants like hornworts, or cabombas because my fish decided to take a bite out of them, until there was no more of it left.
     
  14. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    WPG is a rough estimate, it was meant more as a guide for T8 lamps. T5's are more intense and you can get by with less than the WPG rule would lead you to believe.

    For DIY CO2 I would view more as a supplement for your plants, but not use it as an excuse to up the lighting. Keep your lighting low. <2WPG for T8's and less than 1.5 for T5's, IMO. Light is where you have your control...this will dictate how much fertilizer you need and how much CO2 demand there is.

    CO2 limitation will prevent you from growing some plants, but if you choose correctly and are patient you can have a great tank without CO2, lots of growth, and no algae....you just have to stick to low light.
     
  15. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    Co2 works out cheaper over 12 months than 12 months of excel does!
    Shadowmac is right to an extent, it's certainly just a guide line, it was actually devised around t12's not t8's which in them selves are twice as efficient as the old t12's. A single t8 with a reflector with co2 is enough to grow a lot of things, two better still. If you're really set on going the no tech route then look into El natural, but if you want the tanks you see on here then splashing out on the kit is going to be realistically the only way to go, co2 is far more important than lighting.
     
  16. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    being that it was meant for T12's not T8's..that makes me MORE RIGHT! haha, because now its even more of a rough guide ;) thank you for correcting me Garuf.

    Its very hard to convince people that skipping the CO2 and going DIY or excel as a cheaper alternative is not correct. Its if you pay the money up front or bit by bit down the road. I say save the money you intend on spening on DIY CO2 or excel until you have enough for pressurized CO2.

    CO2 is more important than lighting, I'm not contending that point. I am emphasizing the lighting because I don't think mildlyrabid plans on getting a CO2 system. Without CO2 then light is the only thing they have to manipulate, its the only point of control. Ideally a pressurized CO2 system would be best, but from what I've understood it is not an option for rabid.
     
  17. Mildly Rabid

    Mildly Rabid New Member

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    For me, DIY CO2 is free. At least, it's free until my mom gets sick of me using all her yeast and sugar and makes me buy my own. :p @ Garuf: ShadowMac is right. Pressurized is not an option. So then, would you advocate no CO2 or DIY CO2?

    About Watts Per Gallon: I have a *cough* rigged system made of CFLs, like this:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The WPG estimate I use is based off T12 bulbs (1 watt = 50 lumens). I just now recalculated because I had forgotten to adjust for the fact that each CFL bulb puts out 1600 lumens when lying on its side; less than when it hangs vertically. So here’s the real output:

    4 bulbs: 2.78 wpg
    3 bulbs: 2.0 wpg
    2 bulbs: 1.39 wpg
    1 bulb: 0.7 wpg.

    So how many bulbs should I use, given no CO2? How many with a 2 liter bottle of DIY? How many with two 2 liter bottles of DIY? I’d like to ask for your expertise on that.
     
  18. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    run two bulbs and diy co2. Also, Forget lumens, that's just as useless a measurement. PAR is what we're interested in, Lumnes, is a measure of light visible to the human eye.
     
  19. Mildly Rabid

    Mildly Rabid New Member

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  20. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    PAR is a measure of the light used for photosynthesis. Bulbs, fixtures, and most other conventional lighting systems will not provide you PAR measurements and its something you can't get without an expensive meter.

    Like Garuf said, 2 bulbs and DIY. I just wouldn't count on the DIY as a reason to up your lighting. It will be good for your plants, but not consistent enough, nor high enough for more light.

    I think spread might also be an issue with the lights so close and blocked out by the dark closed portions of the hood. attaching your rigged fixtures to something you could suspend over the tank SAFELY and losing the hood might be something to look into.

    Depending on how handy you are, or friends/family are, you could look at wiring a cheap T5 ballast like a workhorse ballast for a single bulb into a canopy or fixture you could place over an open tank. Workhorse ballasts are around $25 and a bulb would be about the same.

    Garuf, do you think a single T5 would be too much light?

    With DIY CO2 use champagne yeast as it will tolerate the high ethanol levels produced by fermentation better and last longer.

    I would also suggest having two batches, one you start a few days prior to replacing the other. That way you can replace regularly without losing supply. I've seen some nicely done DIY builds. If you search around the net I'm sure you can find something that may work well for you.
     

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